International Forum to Advance First Responder Innovation focuses on enhancing and expanding the development of affordable technology and innovative solutions to improve first responder safety, efficiency and effectiveness
IFAFRI, the International Forum to Advance First Responder Innovation, is an organization of international government leaders from 15 countries and the European Commission, focused on enhancing and expanding the development of new technology for first responders The Forum focuses on enhancing and expanding the development of technologies to improve first responder safety, efficiency, and effectiveness. The goal for IFAFRI is to influence the global market to develop affordable, innovative solutions for responders.
IFAFRI incentivizes the development of technologies for first responders by:
- Working with the global first responder community to define a list of common, high priority capability gaps
- Providing a platform for international collaboration on innovative research and development (R&D) initiatives and solutions
- Characterizing the global first responder markets, to inform and guide industry and academia about market opportunities
- Providing information about relevant and available technologies to the first responder community
Research and development (R&D) is critical to providing first responders across the globe with the best tools available to perform their missions. R&D conducted by agencies of national governments and academia is limited to available budgetary resources. Industry investment may also be restricted because of the potential for slow or limited return on investment and the lack of understanding of priority needs and requirements.
Even when new solutions reach the commercial market, limited first responder agency budgets hinder their ability to procure the technology. Ultimately, responder and public safety and security could be compromised if advancements in technology are not implemented in the first responder sector.
The first responder market in any one country may not attract sufficient industry investment to address the Common Global Capability Gaps. However, a forum of first responder representatives may create a critical mass by aggregating their response agencies and personnel to constitute an international user base. This forum challenges industry to bring new and innovative technologies to the market that may not otherwise be discovered or made available. IFAFRI provides prioritized, consolidated, and internationally agreed upon requirements that inform industry of the global first responder needs and direct researchers who may be interested in pursuing development of a solution.
In order to fulfil its mission IFAFRI has established 3 permanent working committees:
- Capability Gaps Committee: Analyzes, organizes, and prioritizes a list of Common Global Capability Gaps to help characterize current and future technology requirements for first responders
- Research & Development Committee: Provides industry and academia with information to initiate development of relevant solutions for the capability gaps
- Stakeholder Engagement Committee: Cultivates IFAFRI’s relationships with first responders and contacts in industry and academia to advance the goals of IFAFRI.
IFAFRI was established in 2014, building on a commitment to collaborate on innovation that founding members had already confirmed through various bilateral or multilateral agreements. The founding members were Australia, Canada, the European Commission, Finland, Germany, Israel, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. Greece and Belgium joined the Forum in 2019.
The Forum was chaired by the United States Department of Homeland Security from 2014 – 2018, followed by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs, “Innovation and Industry for Security" from 2018 – 2021. Germany’s Federal Agency for Technical Relief assumed the chairmanship in September 2021.